The Yellow Polka Dot Filter.

Filter Yellow dot.

The ultimate Aquaponics filter. - Patent pending !!!

The ultimate Aquaponics filter.  It has many essential elements in this elaborate design.   Look at all the innovative elements, especially the fish centrifuge.  That will get the solids out of those little critters whether they like it or not!

There are three clearly defined approaches to what we know as Aquaponics.

1 Aquaculture with some plants hooked onto the end to help with Nitrate control.
2 Hydroponics with a few fish thrown into a tank to reduce the cost of nutrients.
3 Aquaponics as an ECO system, producing wonderful chemical free, clean food in a ecologically sensitive way combining the fish and plants lending both elements equal respect and importance.

Some who approach Aquaponics from the Aquaculture perspective want to get the ultimate filter. They have been led to believe that the more elaborate or the sheer quantity and size of the filter, the better their system will run.  That is certainly true if running an Aquaculture system.  Aquaculture methodologies are well established.

The idea of adding various gadgets to a system is very appealing to the “tinkerer” that lurks just below the surface in many a bloke.  But just how much and what type is needed?  Do we really need to filter or not?

There is just no doubt that there needs to be mechanical and biological filtration in any Aquaponics system.  The fish in the system produce waste and it has to be dealt with in order for the fish to be happy and healthy.

In a home Aquaponics system the most efficient and convenient filter system is the humble media bed.  Various designs have been put forward for a media bed and most of them work rather well, some better than others, but the differences in performance are usually not all that great.

Media Bed

A row of media filters. Excellent filtration capacity both biological and mechanical.

Media beds, particularly gravel of 20mm (¾”) work exceptionally well.  The humble media bed functions as a biological filter and a mechanical filter.  It both converts the ammonia produced by the fish waste into useful nitrates which is plant food, and collects the solid material produces by the fish..  Further, in time it also functions extremely well in providing mineralisation of organic material thereby releasing mineral, and myriads of trace elements that one would expect to find in a well found organic garden.

If you run a domestic style AP system with enough grow beds attached, which, in my opinion is how a domestic system should be configured, then you do not need additional mechanical filtration.  This is assuming that you are running a balanced system, that is, a system that is not overly loaded with fish and is in balance with the fish and plant occupancy.

More media filters means more vegetables can be grown.  More media filters means more fish can be raised.

A really good way to build a very effective media filter is as follows.
Make a solid structure, possibly out of plywood and timber and line it with an appropriate liner.  If a poly or fibreglass tank near that size can be found it would be ideal for the purpose.

A suggested good size is 2m long x 1m wide by 0.3 deep.  (6’ x 3’x 1’deep)
Fill with gravel of 20mm or 3/4" (make sure it does not contain limestone.)

This gravel filter is approx two square metres (2 square yards) in size. This one is getting new gravel after six years in service cleaning the fish water, processing ammonia and growing a huge bounty of vegetables, particularly fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and the like.

Pass the water of your system directly through this wonderful filter. Various methods can be employed to do this; a constant flow or flood and drain. Various plumbing and pumping regimes can be employed to regulate and distribute the water.
I have been using this style of filter for many years. They work exceptionally well, requiring little cleaning and minimal maintenance.

I have also discovered that worms will take up residence in this filter system..... Wonderful stuff.  We all know what worms do for any garden.  They are particularly important in an Aquaponics garden, processing solid organic material and releasing a myriad of minerals, and micro nutrients. The worms also play a vital role in the maintenance of the filter by reducing the volume of collected solids by up to 80%. The plants do really well, because, amongst other things, the action of the worms releases and makes available nutrients for these plants.

Much to my utter amazement I have found that , by growing plants in the top of this filter (I grow veggie types of plants) the efficiency of the filter is further enhanced. By growing plants in the filter I found that the Nitrates that are naturally produced by this very effective bio and mechanical filter, are used up by the plants. This wonderful little benefit means that I do not need to discard water on a regular basis to keep Nitrates under control. (Discarding water to lower Nitrate levels is common practice in aquaculture systems.)

I know this all sounds very unscientific.....but hey....it works and works astonishingly well.!

I have been running such systems now for more than 6 years, sold and installed hundreds of kits across Australia and also into the USA, NZ and China.  My kits and that of the other only credible kit manufacturer in Australia, are highly successful. Clients enjoy a very high degree of satisfaction and enjoyment.  Further to that there are literally tens of thousands of DIY system builds around the world using the humble media bed filter with excellent results.  As far as we are able to tell we believe there are over one thousand Toteponics systems built from my plans utilising CHOP 2 methodology.
I am totally confident in what I say based on solid verifiable experience.

There are those who promote adding mechanical filters way beyond the humble media bed.  These folk are actually trying to push fish production way beyond what a home based Aquaponics system should.  This is actually home Aquaculture.

If you want to go outside that balance and push for more fish production and actually turn your AP system into a half baked Aquaculture system, then you need to start adding aquaculture like equipment such as moving bed filters, swirl filters and so on.

By going in the aquaculture direction, the beauty of the simplicity of a well balanced Aquaponics system is lost and it becomes ever more complicated to maintain and run.
This may be the deliberate choice of some operators of home systems.
If you want to add filters, then go for it....have fun....knock yourself out, add a couple, or three.

Some people that go on and on about filtration, are heavily influenced by Aquaculture people and have a strong aquaculture bent. They have lost sight of the beautiful thing about home AP, and that is ...it is an ECO system. It is NOT Aquaculture and it is NOT Hydroponics. It is Aquaponics.

An AP system is an ECO system so therefore must be in a balanced state.  This should never be forgotten.  Aquaponics as an ECO system is a system for this time in history.  More and more folk are realising the importance of growing food using all the natural processes possible.  There is increasing rejection of systems that rely on chemicals or push things way beyond natural limits.  A balanced ECO system such as Aquaponics allows for the raising of food fish and vegetables in a symbiotic relationship.

The great majority of home system owners, especially those that have purchased a ready made premium kit are not interested in additional complications in running a system. They are very attracted to the beauty of the ECO system. It fits well into their idea/desire to move towards a greener more sustainable lifestyle.

There is an element amongst the AP - DIY world that enjoy tinkering. For those people, build yourself at least one of every kind of filter you can think of and ...enjoy. Tinker away till your heart is contented.

Why not build a replica of the Yellow Polka Dot Filter and attach that to your system?

The Yellow Polka Dot Filter. It just might be the ultimate filter for the home aquaculture system.  Those who feel they need additional mechanical filtration, want to get into home aquaculture, and you just love to tinker!

Please  take note, if we were to build a full blown Commercial system we would approach the design with a different set of parameters to produce a commercially viable system while still maintaining the beauty of an Aquaponics ECO system.

Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics is available world wide to consult on design and commissioning of commercial scale Aquaponics systems that are efficient in design and maintain the working principle of an ECO system.

 

PS.... Come to my Commercia and Small Farm Training at Pescadero California December 2 to 6 ....2012.    See here for more info about all my training classes in Australia and the USA.

Learn – Lighting and Pest Control at Orlando – Practical Aquaponics.

Jesse and Molly

We are excited to announce that we have added Jesse Hull and Molly Stanek to the teaching staff at the upcoming Practical Aquaponics training in Orlando. They are experts in Insect pest management which is essential for greenhouses, also they will be teaching Lighting and Water quality.

Remember this will be a small group of students - less than 50 with 6 instructors and a staff or 12. A great teacher to student ratio. If you haven't registered yet please do so soon as we are filling up fast now. The hotel suites sleep six and are only $99 a night. We are providing a full breakfast and lunch all day plus all transportation to the Farms.

More Details HERE

Don't miss this training if you can make it as it will be a great teaching staff with Murray Hallam teaching his FlowMedia and CHOP methods. I have included the curriculum

Practical Aquaponics in conjunction with Planet Stewards will conduct worlds best Aquaponics training and workshop right at Disney World Orlando September 16 thru 19 inclusive.
If you want to learn about Aquaponics this is an event not to be missed.
Practical Aquaponics Training – The Full Monty  Book your place HERE

Murray Hallam. Practical Aquaponics.

Learn and train hands on with Murray Hallam – Aleece B. Landis (TCLynx) – Sahib and Cosmo.
Spend 4 full packed days at the beautiful Hilton Doubletree Disney Resort. (Why not stay a few days extra and enjoy Disney World – special rates for attendees – more about that later.)
The most in-depth training and class on the many different systems used in Aquaponics today right through from Home systems to Commercial scale operating information .
This 4 day event will include the following.
Starting with 7 hours of packed classroom education and training to prepare your for the following two full days in the field learning and doing.
Learn Backyard – Small Farm – Urban and Commercial methods.

Day Two in the field with a full day of hands on workshops and training at TCLyx’s farm with Murray Hallam and TCLynx. Training and building of the new unique Rail Beds and Media hybrid systems. Learn about the Vertical Zipgrow towers for commercial production. Over 15 different components used in 5 different Hydroponic systems. Learn how to sell your produce in the most effective way.

Day Three in the field with a full day of workshops and training Sahib’s Urban Aquaponics with Sahib and Cosmo. At Sahibs amazing Urban farm we will be training on Deep and Shallow Water Culture, Vertigro and Sandwich vertical systems. Sahibs unique Zero Lot Aquaponics. Greenhouse and Wicking beds. Explore and learn about over 6 different Aquaponic systems.

Day Four at the Doubletree will be intense with more Classroom training on more systems designs, Marketing and several hours of breakouts with the instructors on the components and technologies you just learned about. Each day will end with in-depth Q&A sessions.
Main Street Disney World Orland right across the road from the Doubletree Hotel

Of course with all the intense learning you will need to spend some time unwinding and enjoying the entertainment of Disney just across the street from the hotel with special rates for our conference attendees. The DoubleTree suites are all 2 room suites that can sleep 6 and at an amazing Practical Aquaponics conference rate. Practical Aquaponics will provide your breaks and full lunch all four days. This is not your one way only Aquaponics Training. This is the Full Monty, the Real Deal in Aquaponic Training.

September 16 to September 19 inclusive 2012 Orlando Florida USA.?Venue: Hilton Resort at DisneyWorld Orlando.

Day 1. 4 sessions 1.5 hours each.
7:30 – 8 Intro by Mike Cosmo – Course agenda
8-10 Murray Hallam – Practical Aquaponics – Aquaponics is Easy
10:00- 10:15 Break provided by Practical Aquaponics Training
10:15-11:45 TCLynx Aquaponics – Systems and components overview
11:45-1 Lunch with meet and greet provided by Practical Aquaponics Training
1 – 2 Sahibs Urban Aquaponics – Systems and components overview
2:00 – 2:30 Break with Student intros provided by Practical Aquaponics Training
2:30 – 4 Murray Hallam- Commercial Raft and Integrated Flow Media Aquaponics
4:15 – 5:30 Optional – Q & A by all presenters – components showcase
Day 2 and Day 3
8:15 Busses leave for Aquaponics Farm # 1
Murray Hallam and Aleece Landis – Morning and Afternoon sessions include hands-on
Plumbing – Stock tank grow beds – Deep gravel beds – Siphon flood and drain – Timed flood and drain – Constant flow/Constant Flood beds – Rail Beds – Zipgrow towers – Aquaponics Indexing Valves – Automated Diversion Valves – Uniseals – Capillary Matting – Dura Skrim Liners – BSF (Black Soldier Fly Larva) – Duckponics – Catfish – Bluegill – Seedling systems – Rain water collection – Flow Media Beds - Water Quality – Integrating Aquaponics with Farming - Commercial Aquaponic Farming – Plant and Fish choices - Bell Siphons
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch at Yahala Bakery provided by Practical Aquaponics Training
Training continues after lunch.
5:00 Busses return to the Hotel.
8:15 Busses leave for Aquaponics Farm # 2
Sahib and Cosmo – Morning and Afternoon sessions include hands-on and class
Aquavermiponics – NFT – Wicking beds – Zero Lot Aquaponics – Nano System – Koi – Talipia – Blue Gill – Vertical Shallow Water Culture SWC – Hybrid Urban Aquaponics Systems – Vertigro – Sandwich towers – Raft DWC – Media Beds – Water Chemistry – Greenhouses - Open Aquaponics - media and online resources and education – Fish food – Fish Rearing – Community – Plant and Fish choices
12:00 – 1:00 Catered Lunch provided by Practical Aquaponics Training
5:00 Busses return
Day 4. 7:30 – 8 Intro by Mike Cosmo
8-9:30 Murray Hallam – Chop – Tote & low cost Aquaponics – Backup
9:45- 10:00 Break provided by Practical Aquaponics Training
10:00 – 11:45 Field reviews and Q&A from field with Murray, Sahib , TCLynx and Cosmo
11:45-1 Lunch and meet and greet provided by Practical Aquaponics Training
1 – 3 Hands on breakouts by Presenters – Components – Technology
2:30 – 3:00 Break with Student intros provided by Practical Aquaponics Training
3 – 4 Making money – Profits and Marketing - Upick – local Markets, – Restaurants,
CSAs and other income opportunities.
4:15 – 5 Q & A by all presenters
5:00 – Closing ceremonies. Certificates, photos and signing session.
PLEASE NOTE: This is a summary of course content. Hand out notes and other material will be made available during the course.??We reserve the right to change, add to the material as the need arises without notice.
Earlibird rate of $995.00 per person until August 15 .?Late bookings (if there is still room) after August 15 will be 1095.00 per person. (no special price for spouse or partner at that late time.)??Please note that if you wish to bring your spose or business partner they will attract the special price of 920.00 to attend the event. One partner only.

We haven't added Jesse and Molly to it yet.
1. Water Quality and Testing in Aquaponics (Jesse Hull & Molly Stanek): Dissolved Oxygen – Temperature – pH, Alkalinity, & Hardness – Nitrogen Cycle & Nitrifying Factors – Other Nutrients - Turbidity – Filtration.
2. Artificial Lighting & Heat Transfer Applications in Aquaponics (Jesse Hull): Primary & Supplementary Lighting – Lower Heating & Cooling Costs by ‘Waste to Resource’ Methods.
3. Integrated Pest Management in Aquaponics (Molly Stanek): Introduction to Integrated Pest Management – Prevention – Identification – Management – Commonly Encountered Insects – Beneficial Predator Insects – Other Treatment Strategies.
The Double Tree Hilton at Disneyworld Orlando Florida.

This beautiful world class Hotel is just right for our Training Conference.

Conveniently located near both our Training Farms and right in Disney World makes it both convenient and an exciting destination.

Shuttles from Orlando International Airport run regularly to and from the Hotel.

Special room rates for the workshop attendees from 99.00 per night. The two room suites can accommodate up to 6 persons in your party.

Special Disney World rates are also available for those who may wish to incorporate some time at Disney World either before or after the training event..
Special booking link will be published on this page very soon in order to make your reservation for accommodation..

Book your accommodation HERE. Special room rates have been arranged. for you.

Nutrient and Sunlight

We have put together a short video clip to show the amazing difference between plants from the exact seedling batch, planted in different systems.
One system is young and new and has not yet built up a good solid nutrient bank. Obviously the nutrient does not yet extend across the full spectrum of that needed for good plant health.  This is so important for the follow on effect this has for the food consumers personal health and well being.

Nutrient in a well found Aquaponics system comes from a variety of sources but principally from the fish waste.  There is a variety of ways that nutrient can be provided, all of them relatively easy and very effective.

Nutrient capture and distribution is vital to ensure the system produces well.

Our FloMedia methodology, utilising media beds together with raft systems connected in the right configuration and proportions provides good plant nutrition across the plant side of the Aquaponics system.

This is evidenced by the plants we grow in our research and client systems.  Good examples of wonderfully healthy plants can be seen in the video clip.  I have visited on Aquaponic farms where, frankly, the growth of commercial crops was poor.  This is due to insufficient balanced nutrient properly distributed across the farm systems. A successful Aquaponic operation needs to maximise the output from the farm, community or home system while working within good cost structures.

Learn about these and other very practical methodologies from those with the actual practical experience on farms from all climate zones.

The next Practical Aquaponics Workshop will be held in Pescadero California Feb 24 - 28, 2013
See here for the course outline.

This course is heavily biased toward a practical hands-on experience. Not hours and hours of boring monologue but useful, practical how-to-make-it-work information.

There will be an excellent info filled comprehensive Manual for the attendees to take away with them......

Will It Grow & Who Will Buy The Produce.

Guest Post by SAHIB.
Sahib is one of our Instructors for our upcoming Orlando 4 day Practical Aquaponics & Planet Stewards Training.  Sahib lives in Florida and has extensive Aquaponics gardens and amongst other interests he is very involved in community charity work.

Sahib writes,
A question that I am often asked is “Other than the lettuces and leafy greens, what else can you grow in Aquaponics?” That is then followed by, “Is it profitable?”

Aquaponic vegetables taken from Sahib's garden

A selection of vegetables harvested from one of Sahib's Aquaponic Gardens....today....Can't get fresher produce than that!

During the last two years or so, I have found that you can grow almost any vegetable and plants that you choose to in Aquaponics. You may need to adapt the grow beds and practice hybrid aquaponics as I do to increase your range of products. I have successfully grown broccoli, carrots, eggplants, daikon and radishes, fennel, fruit trees, kohlrabi, herbs, okra, onions, pumpkins, marrows, gourds, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers – hot & sweet just to name some. I have also seen others grow corn and some even sweet potatoes via wicking beds. One really needs to expand their horizon and realize that there are really very few items that will not grow well in Aquaponics systems. Yes there are a few items that are just not cost effective at present such as grains and rice. There is research being done on these products and I am sure that very soon these too will become economic to grow via Aquaponics means.

How about growing Cayenne Peppers!

Peppers. Really hot peppers.

 “Is it profitable?”  Really!

Let me answer the question “Is it profitable?” first in pure economics terms. According to recent articles (April 17, 2012), “The Top Ten Fastest-Growing Industries in America”, and and “The Hot Sauce Treadmill”, Hot Sauce Production is part of this group! I use a variety of chili peppers (also known as “Mirch” in India), especially Cayenne, in virtually all my cooking and will always have hot sauce handy. Today there are numerous hot sauces on display at various eating establishments. Just look at the supermarket isles when you next visit. This trend is expected to increase as our tastes change and adapt to more of an international cuisine and we build a tolerance to the capsaicin-rich foods. The market is expected to grow close to 5% annually, so yes, growing Hot Peppers can be economically profitable. Growing them by aquaponics means ensures that you are assured the best natural taste. As I was quoted in the recent article in Cornell University Small farm Program Newsletter – the Urban Gardening section “This was a far superior way to grow it locally, grow it naturally, without having to resort to harmful pesticides and fertilizers and such, because if I did, my fish would die.”

Who Killed The Fish?

If a little "cheating" happens....we will know....the fish will all die.

The fish will die if chemicals or artificial fertilizers are applied.

Many are very dissatisfied with the quality of food available.  The widespread use of chemicals in food production is worrying.  Studies are beginning to show links between many modern day ailments and chemical use. The demand for "Organically Grown" is on the rise.  Consumers want to eat better, reduce drastically the intake of unnatural chemicals via the food eaten.  These chemicals are most often in the form of agricultural sprays and artificial fertilizers.

Grow your own.  It is easier than you might think.   Imagine fresh, chemical free fish and vegetables, grown at home or at a family or community farm nearby. Aquaponics is a wonderful way to grow-your-own at home and on a bigger scale to supply the needs of others.

Aquaponic training course

Aquaponic grown lettuce - better than organic. Students examine these prime quality, chemical free lettuce.

Aquaponics is better than Organic because we have those inbuilt policemen in the system - the fish.   Fish are very intolerant to agricultural chemicals and will quickly die if contaminated with even very small amounts of these chemicals. An Aquaponics farmer just cannot "cheat" when tempted to increase yields or to control a pest outbreak by using chemical sprays or fertilizers.

Organic Policeman built into each Aquaponic system

If a little "cheating" happens....the fish will tell us.......they will all die.

Learn how to grow-your-own.....Aquaponically.....the very best produce you can imagine at Practical Aquaponics Training in Orlando September 16 to 19 2012

Aquaponics In Disney World.

That is right,
Practical Aquaponics in conjunction with Planet Stewards will conduct worlds best Aquaponics training and workshop right at Disney World Orlando September 16 thru 19 inclusive.

If you want to learn about Aquaponics this is an event not to be missed.

Practical Aquaponics greenhouse.

Murray Hallam in his FloMedia research greenhouse.

Learn and train hands on with Murray Hallam  - Aleece B. Landis (TCLynx) - Sahib and Cosmo.
Spend 4 full packed days at the beautiful Hilton Doubletree Disney Resort. (Why not stay a few days extra and enjoy Disney World - special rates for attendees - more about that later.)
The most in-depth training and class on the many different systems used in Aquaponics today right through from Home systems to Commercial scale operating information .

This 4 day event will include the following.

Starting with 7 hours of packed classroom education and training to prepare your for the following two full days in the field learning and doing.
Learn Backyard - Small Farm - Urban and Commercial methods

Day two in the field with a full day of hands on workshops and training at TCLyx’s farm with Murray Hallam and TCLynx. Training and building of the new unique Rail Beds and Media hybrid systems. Learn about the Vertical Zipgrow towers for commercial production.  Over 15 different components used in 5 different Hydroponic systems. Learn how to sell your produce in the most effective way.

Day Three in the field with a full day of workshops and training Sahib’s Urban Aquaponics with Sahib and Cosmo.  At Sahibs amazing Urban farm we will be training on Deep and Shallow Water Culture, Vertigro and Sandwich vertical systems. Sahibs unique Zero Lot Aquaponics. Greenhouse and Wicking beds.  Explore and learn about over 6 different Aquaponic systems.

Day Four at the Doubletree will be intense with more Classroom training on more systems designs, Marketing and several hours of breakouts with the instructors on the components and technologies you just learned about.  Each day will  end with in-depth Q&A sessions.

main street Disneyworld Orlando

Main Street Disney World Orland right across the road from the Doubletree Hotel

Of course with all the intense learning you will need to spend some time unwinding and enjoying the entertainment of Disney just across the street from the hotel with special rates for our conference attendees.  The DoubleTree suites are all 2 room suites that can sleep 6 and at an amazing Practical Aquaponics conference rate. Practical Aquaponics will provide your breaks and full lunch all four days. This is not your one way only Aquaponics Training.  This is the Full Monty, the Real Deal in Aquaponic Training.

Practical Aquaponics greenhouse.

Murray Hallam in his FloMedia research greenhouse.  Media and DWC combined in the most productive way.

Go HERE for more detail and to reserve your space.

The Seed Movement Is Really On !…

You can listen to the podcast here.
Cincopa WordPress plugin

 


Murray Hallam
Well , good morning I am talking with Penn Parmenter of Westcliffe in Colorado.  How are you today?

Penn Parmenter. Great, I am talking with you from my mountain.

Murray Hallam.
Up in the mountains there. That is about as far away from Australia as you can get I think, up there in altitude of the Rockies, so I find it quite interesting. Anyway, look I want to talk to you today about seed saving.   In the training you are going to be doing in Florida next month, I see you have got listed there you are going to train us in seed saving. Now, why should we save seeds?

Corn growing in a field. Corn, one of the more difficult seeds to save.

Penn Parmenter. Well I'll tell you something Murray, If you think the food movement is on, I've got to tell you the seed movement is really on. It seems like seed is being threatened world wide, but there is a wonderful pro-active movement out there of people who are teaching and learning about seed saving, and it is a missing link in our gardening here in America and we really need to start again.

Murray Hallam.
 Why do you think that is? Why do we need to save seeds ?  Isn't it just as easy to go down to the seed store and buy a packet of seeds?

Penn Parmenter.
 Well besides thinks like genetically modified  organisms being created that can possibly cross with the seeds we could be getting in the future, there is nothing more self sufficient and sustainable than a seed.  It has a built in a self replication program, and it also has an adaptation program.  It immediately adapts to the environment it is grown in, so the longer you save it the stronger it gets for your garden.

Murray Hallam.
 So, do you mean then, if I grow for example a tomato bush and I save the seed, the next time I plant that seed, the tomato bush will be much more adaptable to my area; Is that what you are saying?

Penn Parmenter.
  I am saying it remembers, yes. It carries with it it's genetic history and it's.....as our teacher said "It is more elegant than any computer chip could ever be" and it remembers and adapts from year to year.

Murray Hallam.
 Isn't that fascinating . Well this sounds to me like this could be easy, but it could be difficult.  Tell me, is it easy and difficult, or is it just easy?

Penn Parmenter.
 Well, the good news is that there is at least three levels of seed saving and we have a seed library here where you can check seed out and return more than you take, but we have it set up so that you can check out easy-to-save seed, intermediate-to-save, and difficult-to-save. So you start from the beginning of course, and begin with easy-to-save seed, which by the way, the five most, easy things to begin with are, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, beans and peas. And it's easy, because you don't have to do anything you just grow them and you don't really have to worry about how many varieties you have grown, or any distance, or isolating them, and you just save the seed and they come true.

Murray Hallam.
 Wow, so that's good because they just happen to be  probably some of the most important vegetables don't they, to feed yourself and your family. So what would be a difficult seed then, and what would make it difficult?

Penn Parmenter.
That's a great question you know because it's probably kind of perspective, like an intermediate seed may only be difficult because you need to isolate it which means you need to only grow one variety at a time, so they don't cross within their family. That may not be hard but it just means you have to grow one kind. Difficult means it may take two years because it is a biannual, you have to isolate it and it might need a really large population like 200 plants.  So to a gardener that may seem hard but to a small farmer having 200 plants of corn is not that hard, so it kind of depends on your perspective, but I tell you when you start with easy seed, you get back so much that you instantly become addicted and can't wait to try the next step.

Murray Hallam.
 Sounds good. Look we've got over here, we call them heritage seeds, some people call them heirloom seeds or open pollinated seeds I think might be the other term; what's so special about them?

Penn Parmenter.
   That's true. all three of those names are a good thing to look for when you are buying seeds, um, but hybrid seed is simply a cross between two other parents. There is nothing wrong with a hybrid,  it's just that if you save the seed from it, it won't come true to what it was before. It will have the entire genetic background of both parents.

Murray Hallam.
It could come out as anything then, like it could come out as, like either mum or dad for example of where it was generated from.

Penn Parmenter. That's right, so you look for "OP" for open pollinated, now seed packets or the name of the variety has to say if it is a hybrid, which it will either say hybrid or the letter F1 which is first generation, but it doesn't always say heirloom or heritage, you kind of sometimes you just know that, now more and more the seed packets and the catalogues are starting to label which ones are heirloom or heritage, so but hybrid it has to say it.

Murray Hallam
.  I hear it and read about it that people are worried about collecting seeds because of, there are some big companies that are trying to patient them and stop people from using them. Is that right, or is that just a story?

Penn Parmenter.   You know, the problem is there is these chemical companies are messing around with crops crossing seeds with chemicals and crossing seeds with all kinds of things and they are often experimenting with a wind pollinated crop like corn so we can't control what happens. Things can cross with a neighbours or a farm far away if the wind blows, so when you look at a catalogue it will have a "safe seed" pledge in it, where they are saying they not knowingly buy any seed that is a GMO. They say that because they have to protect themselves in case contamination happens from the wind.

Murray Hallam.
  Yes, OK , so as an amateur seed collector if I decide I am going to start saving seeds, I guess you will tell us how to do that won't you, because I remember once trying to collect seeds off a lettuce and it was kind of hard and a bit of a mess but I guess there will be techniques you will be able to show us how to do that will there?

Penn Parmenter.
 Absolutely, especially using household items like a brown paper bag, or a jar that you have in your kitchen, that you know the way in is with the tomato the gateway drug to gardening, it's also the gateway drug to seed.

Tomatoes in Aquaponics Practical Aquaponics.

Tomato bush in flower. Growing tomatoes can be come an addiction.

Murray Hallam.  Is that right. It's an interesting way to describe it !

Penn Parmenter.
 There is people out there you know their message is "no seed - no food". If the seed in the world is controlled then there is no food, but the real message might be "no seed - no beer" if that what's needed to get your attention.

Murray Hallam.
 To get through to people. Well look I reckon that I am really looking forward to this seminar you are going to be running in Florida in April, and this is going to be really interesting. You guys are going to be really busy because you are also doing the seminar on how to build those wonderful greenhouses that your husband builds, so I think there could be a day each on these, but we have to squeeze it into a day, so that is going to be really really intense.

Penn Parmenter.
We are really looking forward to it, in fact that's why Cord is not here with us today he is off working on that giant sixty four foot sustainable greenhouse, so were going to be with our bells on in Florida, so I hope everyone will come and see us.

Murray Hallam.
 I think there will be a lot of people there so , look thanks for talking to me this morning and we will see you in Florida next month.

Penn Parmenter.  Thanks Murray and have a great day.

Murray Hallam.  Bye......

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Countdown – Aquaponics FloMedia 4 day Farm Workshop.

It is getting exciting.  Only a few days to go and we will be into our first ever Australian Aquaponics Farm Workshop.
We have guest lecturer Dr Wilson Lennard all booked and ready to fly in early Monday morning.  He will be, as usual a wealth of information as he takes you through the various aspects of Commercial Aquaponics.  Additionally we have a Greenhouse expert coming for day 3 of training to discuss all aspects of greenhouse technology.

Day one will commence at the beautifully appointed Jimboomba Tavern and we will cover in detail the science of Aquaponics, microbiology, fish and plant health. In the practical sessions we will look at system elements and discuss what goes where in an aquaponics farm build.

Practical Aquaponics FloMedia build

Running the air at full throttle in the main fish tank. We have just filled the system with water from the dam and we are hoping for a very quick "cycle" to be ready for the fish.

We have been busy building a display / instruction area where the hands on training will be carried out.  We have had days of torrential rain followed by stinking hot days.  That is the nature of late summer weather here in South East Queensland.   Days have ranged from 28 to 33 degrees C  (83 - 93 F) .  So make sure you bring a sunglasses, hat and sunscreen for the outdoor segments.
Participants are coming from every state of Australia except Tasmania, from Tokyo Japan, Estonia and Israel.

At this time of writing there are 4 spaces left unfilled at the regular price of 1290.00 per person and reduced price for spouse or business partner.  Go here to book. Click on the "Buy Now" button and follow the prompts.

If you are thinking of coming book now......sorry, you cannot just turn up on the day.  We have to have numbers for the caterers and venue organisers.

Practical Aquaponics loading the gravel into the grow beds.

Loading the 20mm (3/4") gravel into the new grow beds. The auto siphon assembly can be seen.

Sustainable Passive Solar Greenhouse – Aquaponics.

Practical Aquaponics Greenhouse

Green house employing passive heating and cooling.

Murray Hallam. Good morning, my name is Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics and I’m here this morning talking to Cord and Penn Parmenter from  Wycliff in Colorado. Now I've been told that you pair are going to be at the training that is going to be happening in Florida in April. Is that correct?

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Listen to the Podcast.

Penn Parmenter.  That’s right. We’re looking forward to coming to Tampa to teach people about sustainable greenhouses.

Murray Hallam.  Yeah, well this has really got me interested because we get a lot of people talking to us from colder climates and I understand you two live in the Rocky Mountains somewhere is that right? Where’s Wycliffe?

Cord Parmenter.  Well actually it’s called Westcliffe.

Murray Hallam. Oh, sorry.

Cord Parmenter. It’s in the south central part of the state of Colorado, and we are at about 8,100 feet (2,500m) and yeah, we get some pretty cold weather and our greenhouses seem to do pretty well in this cold climate.

Murray Hallam.  And, do you get warm summer days as well?

Practical Aquaponics Greenhouse Parmenter passive solar house.

Passive Solar greenhouse under construction.

Penn Parmenter. Oh boy does it get hot in the Rockies. The sun is very intense at high altitude and so the normal greenhouses can spike really hot and get very cold in the day, so these greenhouses can stabilise those fluctuations using thermal mass.

Murray Hallam.  Ok, do you mind explaining to me what you mean by thermal mass and ah just exactly how does that work, and look I'm looking at your website at the moment and I think I can see some barrels in the back of the greenhouses. Is that right?

Cord Parmenter.  Yes, there are a lot of different kinds of thermal mass, earth mass being one that is readily available, we like to use water mass, basically, thermal mass is any dense material that gives and takes heat. The water mass is much more efficient about absorbing the heat, also giving it back at night. So we like to lean our greenhouses mostly toward water mass. We also use the thermal mass of the earth, raised beds and any other concrete or brick structures within the greenhouse.

Murray Hallam.  That is really interesting. And, how much constant temperature can you obtain? Is it good enough for the plants to be ok during your really cold winters?

Practical Aquaponics Parmenter greenhouse 4

Passive solar greenhouse nearing completion.

Penn Parmenter.  Well, this is my favourite part - We have two different greenhouses, and one of them we use less water in and so it gets a little cooler in the winter, so I grow cooler plants in the winter in that one, but the warmer greenhouse, that has an optimum amount of water in it, it can grow tomatoes year round, and that is the holy grail of the Rockies, the tomato.

Murray Hallam.  I reckon. That is fantastic because in the extremely cold climate that you have in some parts of North America, you know to be able to grow tomatoes and that kind of thing year round is just fantastic.

Penn Parmenter.  It is. These greenhouses are proving out more than we even thought they would, so it has been fantastic.

Murray Hallam.  Wow. And the interesting thing about it I think, if I understand you correctly, is there’s nothing all that high tech about this.  We’re not, we haven’t got any fancy pumps, or gas heaters or anything like that have we?

Cord Parmenter.  No, in fact it’s mostly very simple passive solar concepts, you know, this is old talk technology. It’s all about balancing the bringing in of the heat and the storing of the heat.  Which is not to say that you can’t use some active solar to increase the effectiveness of it, we’ve just been very happy with the results of the regular passive solar and just how well it works just on its own.  We haven’t had a need really to go beyond that because we can grow year round without a lot of expensive systems you know.  Once the basic structure’s in place it works really well.

Murray Hallam.  So tell me this, are you going to be able to give people instructions at the course sufficient for them to be able to go ahead and build their own greenhouse, or is it more complicated than that?

Penn Parmenter.   Great question, because that is what our class is all about.  It’s empowering people to do this themselves. We teach them the formula, there’s a ratio between glazing, insulation and water.  And we also teach them that they can salvage much of the materials, or they can buy them all new, or they can do a combination and therefore they can keep their costs down and the whole thing just works great that way, whether you want to buy it new, or salvage I mean.

Murray Hallam.   That’s the good thing about Aquaponics I think, as we move into a new age I believe, where oil is going to go up so much in price that people are going to have to grow a lot of their own food themselves or locally, to be able to obtain it locally, and this is just an amazing thing to have a greenhouse that is this efficient I think, and it’s exciting isn’t it because this kind of knowledge is just so much needed, don’t you think?

Cord Parmenter
.  Absolutely, um, it’s really simple technology and it’s available to everyone and that is what we love about it. Because of its simplicity it can get as complicated as you want to. You could get really scientific about designing these greenhouses, but we found when we made our very first greenhouse we had read a book about it and we had actually loaned the book out and were unable to get it back, and so when I actually built that first greenhouse I did a lot of guesswork and there were some things I got wrong, but you know it worked so well even on that. Later we got the book back and we reacquired the book and we were able to see where we had gone wrong and improve upon it.  It’s a very forgiving technology too, it’s very simple and yet you can improve it by using a lot of common sense.  I find the more that I think about the designs and the more I build the better my designs get. I’ve had such great success, right from the beginning, so I am starting from a really great place and have always been just improving on that and to me that’s very exciting . In fact I have a lot of new ideas as far as venting, cooling. As we have said before we are in a cool climate that gets very cool at night and it can get very warm in the day. Other climates may be warmer and not cool off as much at night, so I have some ideas about that. I am really looking forward to exploring some of these ideas and also it’s very satisfying to me to be able to share this with other people
Murray Hallam .  That’s fantastic thanks for that.  Just to finish off,  there is another thing you’re going to be doing there and I think we will have to talk about that in another podcast; but, aren’t you people into seed saving? Do I understand that is another one of the things you do?

Penn Parmenter.  We do, we’re really excited about this because this is something gardeners have dropped here in America since world war two. Seed saving should be a part of everybody’s garden system and this is putting seed saving back in the gardener’s hands.

Murray Hallam.  Fantastic. I just wonder, how you’re going to fit all this into one day, that’s what I’m beginning to wonder, because it’s going to be an intense day when you’re training for this, and I’m telling you, I’m going to be there with ears all open. I ‘m really interested in the greenhouse and I am very, very interested in the seed saving as well. But look, that’s it for now. We’ll get together again and we will do another podcast shortly. Thanks for talking to me today.

Penn Parmenter.  Thank you Murray
Cord Parmenter. Thank you.

Practical Aquaponics Murray Hallam Greenhouse

Greenhouse employing passive heating and cooling.